The Endangered Species Act sets clear, consistent guidelines for the treatment of endangered species. Under the law, species that are endangered are supposed to receive protection, regardless of whether that creates an inconvenience to economically powerful groups.
The grey wolf, Canis lupus, is obviously an endangered species in the United States of America. It occupies about 5 percent of its historic range, and in most areas where wolves are present, they have extremely low populations. The absence of wolves has a huge ecological impact, as vegetation, both wild and domestic, is over-browsed by deer and other animals that now nibble with little to fear. Yet, bowing to agricultural interests and to many Americans’ prejudice against wolves, the government has refused to support efforts to reintroduce wolves to a wider portion of their former range.
With new legislation, H.R. 6028, U.S. Representative Chet Edwards seeks to make the wolf exemption from the Endangered Species Act a matter of formal law. In fact, the proposed law would go even further, to prohibit the federal government from treating the gray wolf as an endangered or threatened species at all. If H.R. 6028 passes, the wolf may once again be treated as mere vermin to be exterminated, and this time, the extermination may be complete.